Interview by Nicole Friets | Images provided by Chery Tay
Cheryl Tay, a social media activist who recently completed her first Ironman 70.3 triathlon, has led a varied and active life with careers ranging from motorsports to journalism. Her current passion, Rock The Naked Truth (RTNT), is a body image movement she founded that gives people "courage to love themselves right, overcome their insecurities and find their confidence." In this interview, we talk to Cheryl about challenges and goals associated with RTNT, as well as how she balances the various demands on her time.
What is the mission of Rock the Naked Truth?
Rock The Naked Truth is a body image movement that I started to reach out to people who are facing struggles with self-esteem and confidence. Advocating healthy methods of getting in shape, #RockTheNakedTruth promotes an active lifestyle and embraces inner beauty. Most importantly, one of the main objectives of the movement is to bring together a support community to motivate each other.
Anyone can be part of this movement – whether you are struggling with body image issues, have struggled before or know someone who is. Ultimately, the goal is to create a sustainable movement where everyone pays it forward. This movement is open to both males and females.
Body image refers to the way you perceive yourself. It is not just about the weight, but it is any aspect that affects your self-esteem and confidence. It is not uncommon to feel bad about yourself, whether it’s about your weight, your skin, your hair or your teeth. But, you only have one body so love your body for what it is and discover what it can do for you.
RTNT has many events that revolve around fitness - what is the mindset or goal in this?
I personally found confidence through fitness and honestly, getting a good workout in makes you feel good about yourself. That feeling after you smash out a CrossFit WOD (Workout Of the Day) or a run or a spinning class is priceless.
My objective is to help others see what their bodies are capable of through fitness. For example, you can lift a certain weight, you can run a certain distance, etc etc. It is all about what your body can do and not how you should look.
It is also for health reasons - staying fit and healthy is not for the digits on the scale or the measuring tape, but rather, to keep your body in the best shape it can be till you grow old. Simply because health cannot be bought with money.
What were some of your fears in starting this movement? Have these fears been justified or were they unfounded?
Generally I didn't have any fears starting this movement - I just wanted to get the message out there and remind people that they are enough and that there isn't a need to compromise health just to look good.
You can't put a price tag on confidence - it has to come from within and not through validation from others.
How has your profession in Motorsports helped you with RTNT?
Being in the world of fast cars and motorsports previously definitely helped me train a tenacious mindset. I was one of the few female motoring journalist-cum-photographers in a male-dominated world, so that helped me to deal with being different. It taught me that being unique is perfectly okay and that we all should be proud of who we are, instead of wanting to emulate others.
What are some short and long term goals with RTNT?
Short term, I definitely want to grow this community in Singapore and also spread the message as far as I can.
Long term, I hope to take this movement international.
What are some constraints or challenges you foresee in reaching these goals?
Changing one's mindset is the biggest challenge here. Many of us have grown up with our minds fixated on certain stereotypes, like how being skinny is tied to popularity. It won't be easy to change people's mindsets, BUT it's not impossible. It has to be a collective effort, however - and it starts from home/family, to friends and eventually society.
As a social media activist on a variety of platforms, how do you strike a work-life balance and find time for yourself?
Honestly, the biggest challenge is in balancing time! Between training and work, time is already a stretch, but I have always believed that time is managed by yourself. It is exciting to want to do everything, but at the same time, it is important to learn how to say no. That is hard but we really have to learn not to overextend ourselves.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“You're beautiful and there's nothing wrong with you. Why do you want to look a certain way? You don't need to be a size 0 to be accepted by others. There's so much more to life than obsessing over your weight and body. Get out there and enjoy the world!”